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ERIC Number: ED517897
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Feb
Pages: 20
Abstractor: ERIC
Building the Brain's "Air Traffic Control" System: How Early Experiences Shape the Development of Executive Function. Working Paper 11
National Scientific Council on the Developing Child
Being able to focus, hold, and work with information in mind, filter distractions, and switch gears is like having an air traffic control system at a busy airport to manage the arrivals and departures of dozens of planes on multiple runways. In the brain, this air traffic control mechanism is called executive functioning, a group of skills that helps humans to focus on multiple streams of information at the same time, and revise plans as necessary. Acquiring the early building blocks of these skills is one of the most important and challenging tasks of the early childhood years, and the opportunity to build further on these rudimentary capacities is critical to healthy development through middle childhood and adolescence. This paper explains how these lifelong skills develop, what can disrupt their development, and how supporting them pays off in school and life.
National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. Available from: Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. 50 Church Street 4th Floor, Cambridge, MA 02138. Tel: 617-496-0578; Fax: 617-496-1229; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Elementary Education; Preschool Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Birth to Five Policy Alliance; Buffett Early Childhood Fund; Casey Family Programs; Norlien Foundation
Authoring Institution: National Scientific Council on the Developing Child